Institute of Sacred Music Student Requirements

Institute students who are also enrolled in YDS pursue the M.A.R., the M.Div., or the S.T.M. degree with particular interest in sacred music, worship, and the arts. More detailed information is online at or in the ISM Bulletin, also online at

Applicants must complete a separate ISM application for admission to the Institute of Sacred Music.

Studies in Religion and the Arts

The Institute’s curriculum in religion and the arts consists of courses in literature (poetry, prose, drama, and creative writing), the history of art and architecture, visual and material culture, and the history and theology of music. These courses are meant to help students become aware of the rich artistic heritage of the church and the role of the arts in contemporary ministry. Students may elect to pursue the M.A.R. concentration in Religion and the Arts, choosing as a major focus the visual arts, literature, or music. They are encouraged to explore courses in other areas of the University in these disciplines and to process this work theologically at YDS. From time to time, the Religion and the Arts program sponsors art exhibitions, special symposia, and other events open to the University community.

Liturgical Studies

The Institute places a strong emphasis on liturgical studies. The appointment of three members of the faculty in this discipline makes Yale one of the outstanding centers of graduate liturgical study in the United States. Courses taught by the liturgy faculty are open to all students, whether or not they are in the Institute. Likewise, all students are free to consider enrolling in the M.A.R. concentration in Liturgical Studies, providing that their academic background has prepared them for this rigorous course of study.

Ministerial Studies

Pastors are continually called to integrate a wide range of human experience and expression, and nowhere is this more evident than in preparing and leading worship. ISM provides a rich environment for future ministers to develop a comprehensive pastoral vision that interweaves scripture, tradition, music, art, and performance practices in ways that illumine the human condition and enliven communities of faith.

By taking courses in music, liturgy, and the arts, and by learning side by side with musicians and students of literature and art, M.Div. students begin to understand how the arts and theological scholarship enrich each other. As a result, students are prepared more fully for the challenge of leading communities and individuals who hunger to see their fragmented lives redeemed by a more holistic vision of life and faith.

Studies in Sacred Music

Students in the Institute whose primary interest is in music performance are enrolled through the School of Music as majors in organ, choral conducting, or vocal performance (early music, oratorio, and chamber ensemble). Their degree programs are the Master of Music, Master of Musical Arts, and Doctor of Musical Arts, as well as the Artist Diploma. Many also elect to undertake secondary study in harpsichord, voice, piano, and other areas.

Fellows in Sacred Music, Worship, and the Arts

The Yale Institute of Sacred Music inaugurated a residential fellows program in 2010–11. Each year, the Institute seeks a group of fellows from around the world to join the ISM community of scholars and practitioners for one academic year. Scholars, religious leaders, and artists whose work is in or is moving to the fields of sacred music, liturgical/ritual studies, or religion and the arts are invited to apply. Scholars in the humanities or the social or natural sciences whose work is directly related to these areas are also encouraged to apply. Fellows have the opportunity to pursue their scholarly or artistic projects within a vibrant, interdisciplinary community. Fellows are chosen for the quality and significance of their work. The Institute maintains a commitment to living religious communities and diversity of every kind, including by race, gender, and religion. At the Institute, fellows reflect upon, deepen, and share their work with faculty and students. Fellows also work with each other in weekly meetings, have access to Yale’s extensive collections and facilities, and, in some cases, teach in various departments or professional schools. There is more information about the fellows program at or in the ISM Bulletin.


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